Wednesday, March 20th, 2019

Lockside Bar and Grill Story


Come be a part of this warm neighborhood gathering place

by Rob Lauer

Chef Josh Christy

Chef Josh Christy

It’s later on a summer afternoon, and already people are congregating on the outdoor wooden patio of Lockside Bar and Grill.  The Great Bridge bridge is just a stone’s throw away, and the waters of the Intracoastal Waterway, murmuring as they flow past the patio, stir up a gentle breeze. The patio’s roof provides cool shade on sunny days and protection from the drizzle when the day is gray. “This is the perfect spot no matter what’s happening with the weather,” one guest says, gazing out over the river while enjoying appetizers and beer with his buddy.

Soon other guests drift out onto the patio: business people coming to wind down after a long day at the office, families with kids, couples, both older and younger. Some are seated at tables; others settle onto the couches in the lounge area around the firepit. A dad and his two kids play at the Jenga table for a few minutes. When they finish, two business men wander over to try their hands at building something with the wooden blocks.

“When most people walk in
for the first time they comment
on how warm, cozy and at home it feels.”

— Owner Dustin Hughes

Other patrons choose to eat in Lockside’s dining room and bar. The low-key lighting reflects off the highly polished wooden floors; the décor is modern and sleek, but the atmosphere is completely relaxed and inviting. Guests sitting in one booth and seeing friends seated at a table across the room stroll over to greet them and talk for a few minutes.

Rosemary scallops with grilled strawberries

Rosemary scallops with grilled strawberries

Lockside Bar and Grill has the feel of a neighborhood gathering place where all are welcomed, and no one is happier about this than owner Dustin Hughes.

“When most people walk in for the first time they comment on how warm, cozy and at home it feels,” he says. “The atmosphere here is casual.  Some people come in still wearing their tie from the office; others come wearing shorts, a casual shirt and flip flops; we want both to feel right at home here.”

Having opened Lockside five years ago, Dustin now spends much of his time in his office, keeping the books and paying the bills, but he feels most at home working behind the bar, greeting guests at the front door, and strolling about, talking with diners in the dining room or out on the patio. “I love being out front,” he admits. “This place is my baby.”

Josh Christy, who has served as Lockside’s chef over the past year, laughs when considering Dustin’s close relationship with the grill’s regular guests. “When Dustin comes in, it always takes him a while to get to the back because everybody has to talk to him,” he teases with a smile. “They wave for him to come over to their table or booth so they can shoot the breeze.”

All of which delights Dustin. “The most recent studies show that people are looking for a communal experience when they eat out,” he explains. “Great food is important, but the thing that makes a place really successful is a feeling of community and relaxation. People don’t want to feel as if they’re stuck in their booth. They want to feel free to greet friends, to move about and mingle with others.”

The lounge and firepit area

The lounge and firepit area

Lockside’s menu features American cuisine with an emphasis on seafood provided by local fishermen.  The restaurant also looks to local farmers for produce. “We’re never complacent about our menu,” Dustin insists. “We’re always updating it and working to make it better. We strive for dishes that are inexpensive but creative. For instance, people really enjoy our specials—which we change up weekly.”

A glance at the menu for this particular week shows a variety of surprisingly inventive offerings—all the creations of Chef Josh. There’s watermelon gazpacho, salmon Oscar and even a PB&J burger.

“The staff had their doubts when I told them we’d be offering a peanut butter and jelly burger,” Josh admits with a sly smile. “It’s a burger served on a honey brioche bun with grilled onions, a homemade peanut sauce and a bourbon-bacon jelly that I spent an entire day making. Everyone had their doubts— until they tasted it.

For Josh, cooking is a mix of science, art and love. Every Friday night, he offers a new creation as that evening’s special. “We’ll get people dropping in early in the week, asking what our Friday night special is going to be,” he says. “I love when I have the chance to look out front and see someone enjoying one of my dishes. It makes my day when a member of the wait staff tells me that a diner raved about the food.”

The covered outdoor waterfront patio with seating

The covered outdoor waterfront patio with seating

Monday nights feature $5 burgers and pints. Only locally crafted beers are offered. Kellie Aab is Lockside’s talented mixologist, and besides offering specialty drinks that both Dustin and Josh call “amazing,” she also serves some extremely hard-to-find, high-end bourbons—such as Pappy Van Winkle. “We have great happy hour specials on drinks and tapas items Monday through Fridays from 2 through 6 p.m.,” Dustin adds.

“We want this to be
that neighborhood place
where everyone feels at home—
where friends can meet up with friends
and have a great meal
unlike anything they can get elsewhere
in one of the most
scenic locations in Chesapeake.”

— Owner Dustin Hughes

The daily lunch menu features home cooking and blue-plate specials. “Most working people only have an hour for lunch, so our aim is to get the food to them within 10 minutes of ordering so that they can enjoy it and still get back to work on time,” Dustin explains. (In his commitment to offering great lunches, Dustin has also opened a new bistro, What the Gritz, in the Lynnhaven area of Virginia Beach.)

Saturday and Sunday brunches at Lockside are always packed. Delicious food and great drink specials are on the menu both days. On Sunday mornings, live acoustic music is performed on the patio, adding to the welcoming, relaxed ambiance.

Sunday brunch is one of Dustin’s favorite times of the week. “I still bartend on Sunday mornings,” he says. “It gives me a chance to interact with our customers and to really feel part of the community.”

“We want this to be that neighborhood place where everyone feels at home—where friends can meet up with friends and have a great meal unlike anything they can get elsewhere in one of the most scenic locations in Chesapeake,” Dustin continues. “That’s the kind of community restaurant we’ve built here, and we invite everyone to come be part of it!”

Lockside Bar & Grill

200 N. Battlefield Blvd
Chesapeake, VA 23320